So, why transformative fiction? What’s the appeal, what’s the draw?
I wrote original fiction (and spun my wheels endlessly on it without any forward momentum) for years. There are a lot of things that I love–Sherlock Holmes, Star Wars, Robin Hood, Hannibal, World of Warcraft–and, by and large, those things do not love me back as much as I love them. There often isn’t much for representation of women, and when there is representation of women, it isn’t always good, and frequently doesn’t represent me.
I grew up in a time period where female characters weren’t always fleshed out to the extent that the male ones were–and so many of my favourite characters growing up were male, and I subsequently identified with them, hard. I had to curb this tendency in my own writing too–especially when I was first starting out, as a teen. Left unchecked, I, too, was writing casts full of fleshed out male characters, and my one token female. It’s not the kind of work I wanted to be known for, but it’s the kind of work I was producing. I read fanfic on the side, secretly, because I knew it Wasn’t Real Writing, it Wasn’t Good, it was Shameful (Just Like Romance Novels).
(Let me just specify that the sarcasm is very, very strong in that above paragraph. I realize, now, that I was being quite ridiculous. But that’s where I was at that point in my life. It was, well. It wasn’t a good point, but you can infer that by the way I’m speaking about it, I think.)
Then I took a break from writing. I realized I was queer. I learned about feminism. I went through some trauma ™. I had some fairly major life changes.
And I came back to writing, and I struggled to find my words. I struggled with how to move forward. I struggled with finding my rhythm. I struggled with the types of stories I wanted to write.
I fell back into fandom, because I was no longer surrounding myself with people who were shaming me for my interests. I fell back into fandom because I wanted more from the franchises I had recently fallen in love with. Mad Max: Fury Road had destroyed me utterly, and I needed more of it. I needed to know more. I wanted to know more.
I read, and read, and read, and read–and I realized, after a time, that I had something that I wanted to say. I had things I wanted to publish.
The Organization for Transformative Works defines said works as a work which “takes something extant and turns it into something with a new purpose, sensibility, or mode of expression”. Somehow, I hadn’t known, before, that that could apply to me? But all of a sudden, it did.
All of a sudden, I realized that I could create the queer content I wanted to see in the world.
I, too, could write about the things I loved as a child–but I could write in the things that I needed in my childhood. I could write in the things I wanted to see, I could explore the things I was feeling now, I could play with what if and how about and maybe this, and–get this–I could do it all within the structure of the things that I already loved.
Transformative fiction opened up so many doors for me. I hope it’ll open up some doors for you too.